Australia

Greens split on 'sexual violence' allegation against NSW colleague

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A NSW Greens MP has criticised her colleague for using an allegation of 'sexual violence' as a political weapon against Jeremy Buckingham.

The Greens are divided on the handling of an allegation of "sexual violence" against NSW MP Jeremy Buckingham, with accusations its being used as a "political weapon". 

NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong on Tuesday told state parliament the Mr Buckingham intimidated her with aggressive behaviour and called on him to resign following an allegation of "sexual violence" towards another woman.

Ms Leong said Mr Buckingham, an upper house MP, had tried to intimidate her on two occasions this year, including once in Parliament House.

Greens MP, Jeremy Buckingham, speaks before a vote on the NSW bill to decriminalise abortion in the Legislative Council at the NSW Parliament House in Sydney on Thursday, May 11, 2017. (AAP Image/Paul Miller) NO ARCHIVING
Jeremy Buckingham says an internal investigation found there was not enough evidence to support a claim of sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour.
AAP

"I am no longer going to be a part of a system that runs a protection racket for badly behaved men in this place or in society. It has to stop," Ms Leong told the lower house.

The call comes a week after Luke Foley resigned as NSW Labor leader after an ABC journalist detailed allegations he put his hand down her dress. Mr Foley has denied the allegations. 

Ms Leong called for Mr Buckingham, who was accused earlier this year of sexual assault in 2011, to resign and "take responsibility" for his actions.

Mr Buckingham has said an investigation into the alleged 2011 incident found there was not enough evidence to conclude there had been sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour.

NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong is calling on colleague Jeremy Buckingham to resign.
NSW Greens MP Jenny Leong is calling on colleague Jeremy Buckingham to resign.
AAP

Another Greens MP Cate Faehrmann criticised Ms Leong's speech.

"As a woman, I am angry at the way this complaint has been used as a political weapon," Ms Faehrman said.

"This risks making it harder for all women who have experienced sexual harassment and assault to feel safe and supported to come forward."

'Intimidating manner'

Ms Leong also accused Mr Buckingham of intimidating her.

"On two occasions earlier this year Jeremy behaved in an aggressive and intimidating manner towards me," Ms Leong said under parliamentary privilege.

"For a male Greens MP to behave in an aggressive manner, an intimidating manner, towards a female Greens MP in the heart of her own electorate while people are passing by is clearly a sign of someone not being able to control their behaviour."

Mr Buckingham immediately rejected Ms Leong's "characterisation of a couple of conversations we've had".

"I've been democratically elected to the parliament and to the NSW Greens Legislative Council ticket by a ballot of all members," Mr Buckingham said in a statement.

Ms Leong also issued a joint statement with Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi calling on Mr Buckingham to resign in the best interests of the complainant, members, supporters and volunteers.

"The community has the right to expect that elected representatives about whom a sexual harassment complaint has been made will respond respectfully, and in ways that do not leave survivors feeling let down and unsupported, or cause hurt or harm," the statement read. 

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